Former People’s Progressive Party executive-turned-columnist Ralph Ramkarran says that he does not see himself in an active political role in the future but would love to serve as a mentor to young politicians who are part of a power sharing agreement.
In a recent interview with Stabroek News, Ramkarran said that politicians of the country’s two main political grouping, the ruling APNU+AFC and the PPP/C, are stuck in archaic political modes wanting only absolute power and have neglected the citizenry’s calls for power sharing and compromise.
It is for that reason he says that he would give his services, trading on his experience, especially fighting for a better life for the working class and those marginalized, to young and up and coming politicians who want to see unified upward mobility for all citizens and power sharing.
“I have no intention of an indication to get back into active politics. For me to ever consider re-entering politics, the political situation has to change in a way that involves the two major political parties coming together in some way shape or form. Something like power sharing. There are a lot of young people engaged in politics, on both sides, that I really believe can be good leaders. It is time for people like myself to ease out of the scene of active politics and let the young people come forward,” Ramkarran told Stabroek News in the interview.
“And if there is some kind of arrangement, worked out by the political parties, say some kind of alliance or agreement or something on policy coalition or anything like that, there would definitely be a contribution that I could make. This contribution doesn’t necessarily, as part of such an arrangement as I said, mean an active role but I would be ready to give my support, so to speak, to those young people. I stand to help grooming the young politicians to move forward in such a unified arrangement,” he added.
A former two-term Speaker of the National Assembly and a member of the PPP for nearly fifty years when he abruptly resigned after calling out the party on matters of corruption and having some of its key members rain criticism on him, Ramkarran said that he made a promise to seclude himself thereafter.
The resignation stemmed from a fallout over an explosive column he had written in the party-aligned Mirror newspaper in which he had said that corruption was pervasive and the government needed to do something about it.
The PPP’s hierarchy blasted him for his stance which he did not resile from and instead chose to resign.
He said that experience caused him to want stay away from politics until he found a passion in writing on public issues and that has moved to him creating his blog and featuring as a guest speaker at events hosted both here and overseas.
Only recently, Ramkarran was invited to speak at an event in Queens, New York that left many piqued and some hinting at a possible return for the 2020 regional and general elections.
But he said that he while many non-politicians have talked to him about a return to politics he sees himself as more of a mentor than an active politician.
“I left active politics in 2012 with the intention that I had spent the greater part of my left in active politics. When I left in 2012, it was under circumstances that were not pleasant and I had no intention at that time in returning to active politics. I had no intention of doing anything public, but I fell into writing and I am where I am,” he explained.
I have not been invited by anybody in politics to get involved in active politics and I don’t expect to be invited by anybody to resume activity. I left the PPP, as I told you, under circumstances that were not pleasant. I don’t know that the government considers me so much of a supporter that they would invite me to … re-enter politics but I have no expectation of an invitation nor do I have a desire for an invitation,” he added.
He said that some persons from the PPP would talk to him from time to time but none of the “PPP Old Guard” as they seem still bitter with him and as such he does not believe if an invite comes from the PPP it would be from this group.
“The PPP old guard do not like me and are not favourable to me. They are just not sympathetic to me in any way. As such, I do not expect any invitation to come from the PPP old guard, nothing from that group,” he posited.
But it is the ‘Old Guard’ he says that understands the fights of the PPP pre 1992 and he felt it should be them that should lead the cause in a push for national unity.
“The old guard of the PPP were brought up in the same tradition I was brought up in, the tradition of seeking unity with the working class of Guyana. The only way that unity can be achieved is if you have the two parties collaborate. Now they have been brought up in that tradition and they should now adopt it and move forward,” Ramkarran noted.
Looking at the current PPP, he says he sees many youth at the forefront and thinks the APNU+AFC should also adopt this initiative. But for both sides, he said that the older politicians needs to share the power reins and give the youth the opportunity to see their ideas and implemented and blossom.
“I would work with them (the younger PPP) if they want to work with me for us to achieve those goals. I think other old politicians (from both parties) should weigh this option too. As the leadership positions there are a lot of people capable of carrying that arrangement forward.
And while Ramkarran sees the 2020 general elections as high stakes with possibly unlikely allegiances forged, he will for now continue his writings and public speeches. “I see myself writing and making a contribution on political development for the country. Wherever I am invited to write and speak,” he said when asked where he saw himself politically in 2020.
“I have no idea what my response would be if I am invited back into active politics. This now is a purely hypothetical situation. I have no intention of an indication to get back into active politics. The stakes for 2020 are big and could be a game turner but that is so far away from my thoughts at the moment. I am determined at the present time to continue doing with what I am doing. I can only say … if invited, quite unlikely but if, I will consider the invitation but I can assure you that I will not consider it positively. But if there is an addition of the rider, one can never tell what would happen or what the conditions will be if I am ever asked,” he said.